Saturday, August 02, 2008

Sauce Maker Interview: Country Bob's All Purpose Sauce

I received an email from Al at County Bob’s All Purpose Sauce Company. He explained that they had seen “The Last Bite” and wondered if we would be interested it trying their fine All Purpose Sauce. Seeing as though Country Bob’s is not available in California I was all over that like a tornado on a trailer park.

Country Bob’s is a small company from Centralia, Illinois. One man’s passion for cooking resulted in their original sauce recipe. They formed a corporation and the business exploded. They credit their great success to God and have appointed Christ their CEO. While the CEO was not available for this interview; co-founder Al Malekovic was happy to answer our question:

Q: How did you come to found a gourmet sauce business?
A: Country Bob Edson created the All Purpose Sauce in 1968. He owned a filling station and all the local guys would come around and he would make lunch. He loved to BBQ and he would fix different meats and feed them. He could not find a sauce that suited him so he created Country Bobs All Purpose Sauce.

Q: How long have you been in business?
A: Country Bob was making it to sell locally and in 1982 the four of us Bob, Terry his son, Al Malekovic Terry’s father-in-law and Reed Malekovic, Al’s son created Country Bob Inc. and started on our way. This answers the next question, Al’s wife Eileen, runs the office, also a son-in-law and two grandsons. We have a total of 14 employees.

Q: Do you have business partners? Is it a family business? etc.
A: Didn’t you read the last answer? (us, not their answer)

Q: What kinds of challenges are involved in having a gourmet sauce company, and how do you surmount them?
A: The main challenge was getting people to taste it. We use to do a lot of demos, but due to the high cost we have about quit. Cost has went from $35 a day to about $150 a day, but now we give a lot of coupons for free bottles of Country Bobs away. Mainly over the internet!

Q: Do you use a co-packer? How did you find a good one, and how do you work with them to make sure the product comes out the way you intended?
A: We pack our own and also for several other small companies. We are now making our plastic bottles.

Q: What’s the best thing about your job?
A: Meeting all the great people and see how they react to Country Bobs. Working with our family and way the Lord has blessed us.

Q: What’s the worst thing about your job?
A: Getting told NO!

Q: What was your first sauce?
A: Do you still offer it for sale? Country Bobs All Purpose Sauce was our first and still is!

Q: How do you go about developing a gourmet sauce?
A: We do it ourselves; in fact, we are working on a marinade and two new BBQ sauces.

Q: How do you taste and evaluate gourmet sauce?
A: Our employees help with the taste and we see what the market place is needing.

Q: How has your company evolved over the years? (if applicable)
A: Because of the increased number of chains and the Broker system dissolving; we now use the internet to get people to taste Country Bobs. We send out a coupon for a free bottle if the people register on our web site. We are on a bunch of search engines that give free stuff away. Also we started blogging a couple of months ago and our hits on our web site have doubled. We are redoing our web site to make it more person friendly.

Q: Do you use any unusual ingredients that people might be surprised at? (No Answer)

Q: Do you have a favorite sauce? What do you like about it?
A: Our All Purpose!!

Q: Aside from your own, do you have a favorite commercially available gourmet sauce?
A: NO!

Q: What’s the best way to use your sauce?
A: You name it! From marinating, dipping, steak, BBQ, and the vast ways to cook with it. (you should see our cookbook).

Q: What’s the strangest way you’ve heard of someone using your sauce?
A: Ice Cream

Q: What do you want people to know about your sauce?
A: If they will taste it they will buy it.

Q: What is next for your company?
A: Gourmet BBQ sauces

Q: What trends do you see happening in the specialty food industry in the next several years?
A: Shelf space being a premium and the cost of doing business rising.

Q: Where can we buy your products?
A: Web site, call us, Amazon, most Kroger and Wal-Mart Super Centers, Albertsons, and other independent stores. Country Bobs is sold mostly in the Midwest and the South.

We truly enjoyed the sample of Country Bob’s All Purpose Sauce and you can get your
FREE bottle by simply signing up for their newsletter. Some restrictions apply, see their site for details: http://www.countrybobs.com/pages/signup.asp

Look for part two where we use Country Bob's All Purpose Sauce in a recipe from the Country Bob's website!

1 comment:

Eric said...

Hi.. this is eric at www.bbq-festivals.com and www.bbqhub.com. I use Country Bob's and it is a great sauce. I have used it on steaks and burgers and love the taste. If you haven't tried it, I suggest you get some.

Eric